Saturday, August 16, 2014

In Perfect Time by @SarahSundin | Enter to win a Kindle HDX and a set of books!


This is a wonderful story and beautiful conclusion to The Wings of the Nightingale series. Please see my review here.


____________________

Don't miss Sarah Sundin's hot-off-the-press novel, In Perfect Time. Publishers Weekly gives it an enthusiastic thumbs up: “Sundin excels at well-researched historical detail . . . with such accurate depictions of culture and setting that we are fully immersed in the times as well as in the story. The strength of relationships forged in war and the apprehension of God in times of trouble infuse this well-crafted novel with substance and light.”


perfecttime-400-click


Sarah is celebrating the release of her book with a fun giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle HDX
  • The Wings of the Nightingale Series (With Every Letter, On Distant Shores, and In Perfect Time)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 24th. Winner will be announced August 25th at Sarah's blog.



Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Sarah's blog on the 25th to see if you won! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: In Perfect Time


In Perfect Time
By Sarah Sundin
Wings of the Nightingale, #3
Revell, 2014


Summary

Bold, sophisticated, and coy, Army Air Force flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she flies, leaving men pining in airfields all across Europe. So how can ruggedly handsome C-47 pilot Lt. Roger Cooper be all but immune to her considerable charms? In fact, he seems to do everything he can to avoid her.

Still, as they cross the skies between Italy and southern France, evacuating the wounded and delivering paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them closer. Can they overcome the fears and misunderstandings of the past in order to take hold of the future?

Sarah Sundin seamlessly weaves together emotion, action, and sweet romance into a tale that transcends time and calls us to believe in the power of love.


Secluded beach, Naples


My thoughts

Simply stated, I enjoyed everything about In Perfect Time - and the whole Wings of the Nightingale series, for that matter. World War II fiction is a genre I've only started reading recently, and Sarah Sundin deserves a lot of the credit. While In Perfect Time can stand alone, characters and setting continue throughout and reading the whole series will give a much deeper reading experience. The previous books are With Every Letter and On Distant Shores (reviewed here). 

This is an especially appealing series because World War II flight nurses were courageous pioneers - and while they didn't receive badges and medals like the soldiers, they risked their lives in dangerous operations. Sarah's writing exhibits extensive knowledge of historical events and locations, yet this never slows or overpowers the narrative.


Flight nurse on the C-47


Set in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, with a focus on war-torn Italy and southern France, Sarah has the ability to make readers feel like they are actually in the scenes with the way she blends the serious and fun times. We experience everything from an emergency landing behind enemy lines and the courage of partisans, to the big bands and U.S. war bond tour. Opening in March 1944, In Perfect Time reunites us with Mellie, Tom, Georgie and John from the first two books, but the focus is on Lt. Kay Jobson and Lt. Roger Cooper.

Something I especially appreciate about Sarah's writing is the depth she gives her characters. "For Lt. Kay Jobson, flight nursing . . . meant reconnecting a broken soldier with the shards of his humanity." With these opening words, we get a glimpse of Kay's heart for the wounded, a sharp contrast to the surface image she creates with her flirtatious dating of several men at the same time. She's bold and confident, driven to stay in control no matter what - but her bold fa├žade masks deep hurts. Roger, a C-47 pilot who ferries supplies and paratroopers throughout the Mediterranean, is biding his time until he can become a big band drummer. Both Kay and Roger are appealing and vulnerable characters who have bought into the lies and put-downs received from their families through the years - Kay, that she was irredeemable, and Roger, that he would never amount to anything. Just like in real life, these inner beliefs had a disastrous effect on their personal relationships and job performance, and this really drew me to Roger and Kay.


____________________

"God gives us good things not because we're good,
but because He is good."
____________________

Christian fiction should inspire readers, and that is exactly what In Perfect Time did for me. One of my favorite parts was when Roger followed God's prompting and gave his Bible filled with personal notes to Kay. Being so attuned to God that we can sense His prompting and then be willing to follow it - that's something I think many of us strive for. And being open enough to share a painful past because it just might be what someone needs to hear. Readers will find the spiritual journeys of Roger and Kay very moving.

Romance fans will not be disappointed, for while Roger and Kay's story is tender and sweet, the chemistry between them is great. In Perfect Time brings the storylines of Mellie & Tom, Georgie & John, Kay & Roger to a beautiful conclusion - and while many authors tend to rush their endings, Sarah gives one of the most satisfying conclusions I've ever read. Highly recommended.

In Perfect Time can be purchased online at CBD, DeeperShopping, BAM, B&N, and Amazon.


Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every LetterOn Distant Shores, and the Wings of Glory series. In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards, and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California, with her husband and three children.

Meet Sarah online at sarahsundin.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review: The Reluctant Detective


The Reluctant Detective
By Martha Ockley
A Faith Morgan Mystery #1
Lion Fiction, 2014


Summary

Faith was a cop, and a good one. She and her boss (and boyfriend) Detective Inspector Ben Shorter tackled criminals and solved crimes across south-east England. They were a good team. But Faith grew disillusioned with Britain's tough police culture.

As her disquiet grows, she starts to ask bigger questions - and ends up as a priest in the Church of England, a job from which she considers she can do more good than any police investigation. In the process she and Ben part company: he can't stand God-botherers, and she finds his convictions-at-any-cost attitude treads on too many vulnerable people.

Faith may have quit the world of crime, but crime has not let her go. Newly ordained, she arrives in the village of Little Worthy, near Winchester, to look around the parish. Within an hour of her arrival she witnesses the sudden shocking death of a fellow priest. To her distress, the DI assigned to the case is Ben. At the Bishop's urging, Faith stays on to look after the improbably named parish of Little Worthy. As she meets her parishioners she learns some surprising details about her apparently well-loved predecessor, and starts to suspect a motive for his death.

The cop may have donned a clerical collar, but the questions keep coming. How will she reconcile her present calling with her past instincts? Is she in danger herself? What should she do about Ben?


My thoughts

I am glad to have discovered the writing of Martha Ockley because The Reluctant Detective is a well-written British cozy mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed. No scary suspense or blood and gore, just an entertaining and well-plotted whodunit. While similar to other cozies with its charming English village setting, amateur detective, and quirky characters, spiritual depth and characterization go deeper than expected. The Reluctant Detective won't fit into the evangelical mold that some readers demand, as there is a little social drinking and mild profanity a couple of times, yet there is a spiritual depth that felt comfortable and inspiring.



English village


Essential to any good cozy mystery is an idyllic English village, and Martha vividly brings the fictional village of Little Worthy, Winchester, to life with its historical church, village green, and surrounding farms. Enchanting, yes, but not quite as idyllic as one would expect. The beauty and history of St. James's church, Faith's first congregation, are also vividly conveyed.

The mystery is well developed, with humor and a strong ensemble cast. Clues are dropped along the way, but I didn't figure out the murderer's identity until fairly close to the end. In fact, I read murder mysteries for the enjoyment of characterization and plot, rather than trying to figure out who's guilty.

Faith Morgan is a complex character that I really liked. Prior to being ordained into the Church of England, Faith had worked as a police officer for several years and been in a long-term relationship with Detective Inspector Ben Shorter. Even now as one of the clergy, she still likes investigating and is quite good at it - "talking to people, analyzing their expressions, reading their body language, peering into their lives; fitting together the broken puzzle of what they said and didn't say, and why.”

Faith witnesses a murder upon her first visit to St. James's and Ben is assigned to the case, which creates great romantic tension. It's hard to imagine all the reasoning, effort, and discipline it must have taken for Faith to break it off with Ben, leave the police force, and pursue the ministry. What a contrast is given between these two:  "Ben, who thought of God and redemption as childish fantasy; she, the woman who had given up so much to live by that belief." I am eager to see how Martha develops these two characters in future stories.

I liked the description of how Faith had gradually been drawn into the ministry, which shows how effective our witness can be:  "She had first found faith in faces; in people transformed by faith. She thought of the bereaved mother of a teenage knife victim she had met in her third year in the police force. She remembered the woman's sorrow, her flashes of wit; her extraordinary forgiveness and hope."

The Reluctant Detective is an enjoyable and satisfying mystery, and I look forward to more adventures with Faith Morgan. Recommended to fans of British cozy mysteries and detective novels.

The Reluctant Detective can be purchased online at CBD, DeeperShopping, B&N, and Amazon.


____________________

"It is only by realizing the horror and magnitude of sin
and its consequences in the world that we can understand
the light and hope of Easter Sunday morning."
- Canon Jonathan
____________________



Rebecca Jenkins/Martha Ockley

Martha Ockley is the pen-name of Rebecca Jenkins. She read history at Oxford University, and spent several years working alongside her father, the Rt. Revd. David Jenkins (Bishop of Durham 1984-94) during the turbulence of the 1980s. She lives in Teesdale in the North East of England where the landscape and history provide the inspiration for her Regency detective, F R Jarrett. Since September 2009 she has been Royal Literary Fund Fellow and Writer in Residence at York St John University. She is a full-time author, writing both fiction and non-fiction.

Meet Martha online at rebeccajenkins.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Thank you to Lion Fiction for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Author Spotlight + Series GIVEAWAY: Suzanne Woods Fisher


Suzanne Woods Fisher
The Revealing, Book 3 of 'The Inn at Eagle Hill'
Revell Books
Release date: July 2014


Suzanne Woods Fisher is a sweet and very talented lady who has become one of my favorite authors, and I am delighted to welcome her back to The Power of Words. Suzanne weaves heartwarming storylines with character depth, often with strong secondary characters from the Englisch world and an appeal that goes beyond Amish fiction fans. It was with great regret that I turned the last page of The Revealing, because I cared so much about these characters and wanted more.

I am also thrilled to announce that Suzanne's most gracious giveaway is for the complete three-book series, The Inn at Eagle Hill, which includes the following:

The Letters (review)
The Calling (review)
The Revealing (review)

Entry details are at the end of this post and a question will come from the interview. Now let's enjoy Suzanne . . .



Q:  Tell us about The Inn at Eagle Hill series and how The Revealing fits in.

The Revealing is the third of the ‘Inn at Eagle Hill’ series, so there is a story arc that carried through The Letters (Book 1) and The Calling (Book 2) and wraps up those dangling questions. But within that larger story arc, each book has a self-standing story. In Revealing, there is a new character, Brooke Snyder, who enters the scene with some drama of her own. Her career has been as a professional art restorer, but her talent took her a little too far—she became a forger. It was fascinating to learn about forgery—which great artists have been copied most often, signs of a how to identify a forgery, how to duplicate an artist’s signature. Interesting fodder for the imagination!


Q:  Of the leading guys - Tobe, Jimmy, and Galen - who would you most desire for a son-in-law?

        Great question…especially as son-in-laws are on my mind this week. My youngest daughter just got engaged! Let’s see, Tobe would be honest but loyal. Galen would be thoroughly dependable. And Jimmy would be fun!
        Actually, I’d like to put all three in a paper bag and shake it up. Out would come the perfect son-in-law! But then…I already have one wonderful son-in-law and another wonderful soon-to-be-son-in-law.


Q:  One of your characters makes the comment that Eagle Hill was better than a reality TV show. What are your thoughts about Amish reality TV shows - somewhat realistic, far-fetched, exploitative, etc.?

The irony of these “reality” show about the Amish are that they are not at all realistic. Highly scripted! These shows certainly indicate the public’s on-going curious fascination about the Amish, but they do more damage than good by reinforcing stereotypes and providing misinformation.


Q:  Do you have any plans to return to the Eagle Hill or Stoney Ridge community in future novels?

Definitely! I’m starting a new series next week, set in Stoney Ridge, that will carry a few characters over from The Revealing. I want it to seem like a small town for readers.


Q:  What spiritual theme from The Revealing speaks the strongest to you?

The theme of second chances, of forgiveness, is the one that resonates with me. These characters have plenty of flaws, like we all do, but they keep trying to get back on track. That should be our goal!


Q:  What stories can we look forward to in the months ahead?

In just a few weeks, Christmas will be coming! In Stoney Ridge, that is. Christmas at Rose Hill Farm will release—a novella about a “lost rose” (lost to the commercial market, that is.) Lost roses are old roses brought over from Europe, centuries ago, that are tucked away in people’s backyards or in old cemeteries. If you love roses, or love the Amish, or love Christmas, this is the book for you.


Q:  How can we support and/or pray for you, Suzanne?

        This has been a rather dramatic time of life for my family—two of my children (now young adults) became engaged this summer and my oldest son and his wife just had their first baby. In fact, the baby was born on the same day as my daughter’s engagement! Talk about an action packed day! It felt like we were in a “Father of the Bride III movie.” Each event is wonderful and exciting. Our family feels very, very thankful.
        So that’s my prayer…giving thanks!

I love hearing from readers! Their feedback helps me be a better writer. You can find me on-line at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com. I'm also on Facebook and Twitter. And look for little snapshots of my life on Instagram and Pinterest, too!

____________________

GIVEAWAY

To enter the drawing for The Inn at Eagle Hill series, simply answer the following question and leave your e-mail in a safe format -name [at] company [dot]. If you're willing, it's also helpful to share about this giveaway on Facebook.

Question:
Suzanne mentioned the theme of second chances, of forgiveness.
Is this a theme that resonates with you also?

Please "like" my Facebook page, ThePowerofWordsBookReviews, if you haven't already. And new followers of this blog are always welcome!

  • E-mail required, one entry per person. Odds of winning are based on number of entries.
  • Contest ends at midnight PST on Wednesday, August 20. No purchase necessary.
  • Winner will be chosen by Random.org and contacted by e-mail on Friday, August 22. Respond within 48 hours of notification or another winner will be chosen.
  • Eligibility: US residents, 18 and older

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Win a KitchenAid Mixer in Susan May Warren’s Hawaiian Chef Showdown!

Susan May Warren's newest book in the Christiansen Family Collection, When I Fall In Love,  has won over readers' and critics' hearts alike. With critical reviews like, ". . . an exquisite romance. Profoundly touching on the topic of facing fears, this book is a true gem," and more than 60 five-star reviews at Amazon, When I Fall in Love is sure to please.

Susan has teamed up with some amazing food bloggers for a fun food challenge and a KitchenAid Mixer giveaway!



whenifall-400-click


  One grand prize winner will receive:

Grab your aprons and wire whisks and buzz on over to the When I Fall in Love website to learn more and enter the Hawaiian Chef Showdown! Susan is challenging you to make a Hawaiian-inspired dish using coconut, mango, or one of the other ingredients mentioned in the book. You’ll get extra points for creating your own recipe—plus she might share it on the When I Fall in Love site! Or if you're not up for an adventure in the kitchen just click one of the icons below for easy entry.

Hurry, the giveaway ends on August 10th. All winners will be announced August 13th at Susan's blog.


Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Susan's blog on the 13th to see if you won!

Review: The Reason


The Reason
By William Sirls
Thomas Nelson, 2012


Summary

Storm clouds gather over a small Michigan town. As thunder shakes the sky, the lights inside St. Thomas Church flicker . . . and then go out. All is black until a thick bolt of lightning slices the sky, striking the church’s large wooden cross—leaving it ablaze and splintered in two.

When the storm ends—the search for answers begins.

James Lindy, the church’s blind minister, wonders how his small congregation can repair the cross and keep their faith in the midst of adversity. And he hears the words “only believe.”

Macey Lewis, the town’s brilliant young oncologist, is drawn to Alex, a young boy who’s recently been diagnosed with an aggressive leukemia. She puts her hope in modern medicine—yet is challenged to “only believe.”

And Alex’s single mom, who has given everything she can to her boy, is pleading with God to know the reason this is happening . . . to save her son. But she only hears silence and wonders how she can possibly “only believe.”

The Reason is a milestone debut novel, opening with a thunderbolt and never letting up as it introduces us to everyday characters who are wrestling with the questions: Where is God when bad things happen? And does God ignore the prayers of the faithful? The answer each character receives will astound readers while offering an unforgettable call to hope, to change, to . . . only believe.


My thoughts

The Reason is a 5-star book that entertained and strengthened my faith.

First, let me say that this is not the type of novel that I usually read, but I was drawn by the words of William Sirls on a review blogger's site, contacted him, and was blessed to receive copies of both of his novels. The Reason is a moving story that contains life lessons involving faith, grace, patience, and forgiveness. And the reading has even greater impact when you realize that this story came out of William's personal and painful experience.

William's debut novel is well written, has a spiritual theme with great personal application, and is supported by a fascinating ensemble cast. I'm not sure how to describe the literary style, but it felt like a contemporary drama combined with elements of medical fiction, fantasy/speculative, parable, and allegory. What I liked so well is that it seemed like I was reading a gospel account in a contemporary setting - where Jesus had personal encounters that changed lives and He performed miracles to prove His divinity.

The main characters have a crisis or something in their past such that, when they come into contact with the Christ figure, Kenneth, they are forced to examine their faith, or lack thereof. This gripping story centers around Brooke and little Alex, who suffers from an aggressive form of leukemia, but other characters are impacted in various ways - such as Zach, who felt that science had somehow put God out of a job . . . Kaitlyn, who went to church for weddings, funerals, and Christmas Eve . . . and Macey, who relied on medicine and personal ability to perform miracles in the lives of her patients.

____________________

"Worry is disbelief in disguise."
- Pastor Jim
____________________

The Reason's message is powerful, yet simple, and encourages personal reflection. Do I sometimes have difficulty believing what I know to be true, that "God has a plan, and everything does happen for a reason" (Pastor Jim)?  Am I quick to rely on my own abilities?  I found Kenneth's words to Macey haunting:  "What if your best isn't good enough?"

Whether to trust or not is a decision that I seemingly have to make over and over, and I can't help but think of how Jesus always marveled when He saw great faith. I'm reminded of the father in Mark 9 who cried out, "I believe; help thou mine unbelief" (KJV).

The Reason is a compelling read that I recommend to everyone, believer and seeker alike.

The Reason can be purchased online at CBD, DeeperShopping, B&N, and Amazon.


William Sirls

        Born on April 3, 1964 in Detroit, Michigan, to a construction worker and a homemaker, William Sirls grew up as the youngest of six children. Active in both sports and imagination, he aspired primarily to become either a professional golfer or attorney. Realizing he didn’t have the talent or the grades for those careers, he shifted gears and went in another direction.
        Over the course of his life, he has experienced both great highs and tremendous lows— some born of chance, some born of choice. Years before the publication of his first novel, he worked 60 hour weeks as a senior vice president at one of the nation’s largest investment firms, somehow finding time to read three to four books per week and to rough out ideas for different stories of his own.
        In early 2004, while visiting his oldest daughter at a Detroit hospital, he came across a young cancer patient that was being pulled in a little red wagon by his parents. At the time, Sirls had no idea that he was looking at three characters that would appear more than eight years later in The Reason.
        He was incarcerated in 2007 for wire fraud and money laundering. While in prison, Sirls learned a great deal more than he ever bargained for.
        He is the father of two and makes his home in southern Michigan.

Meet William online at williamsirls.com, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thank you to William Sirls for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.